Wednesday, July 26, 2017

You Belong To Me By Colin Harrison is very good,review by Megan Abbott

By Colin Harrison
324 pp. Sarah Crichton Books/ Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $27.
Late into Colin Harrison’s noirish new novel, “You Belong to Me,” Paul Reeves, a prosperous 50-year-old immigration lawyer, sits in the storied Grand Central Oyster Bar, missing his father. “This doesn’t look like a church,” he recalls his father telling him when Paul was a boy. “But it is.” Decades later he surveys the familiar dark wood, the “ancient” waiters, the swordfish he and his father had seen still mounted over the bar. “You had to have places in the city like that,” he decides, “or you didn’t know who you were anymore.”
Is Paul longing for a simpler, more communal era when, as his father says, people could go to a bar and “feel like they are part of things”? Or is this the bleary nostalgia of certain white-men-of-comfort in a city always in flux? Both, it seems. Longing for a lost authenticity mingles with a deeper, less articulated fear of displacement and obsolescence. We hear echoes here of another noir hero, Raymond Chandler’s detective Philip Marlowe, who is forever mourning a bygone Los Angeles — once “a big dry sunny place … good-hearted and peaceful,” as Chandler put it, but now given over to harsh neon, “fast-dollar boys” and a smug suburbia. Marlowe belongs nowhere.
Noir has always had a complicated relationship with nostalgia, alternately rejecting the past as a psychological prison and romanticizing it as the lost Eden that predated our fallen present. At its heart, however, the hard, hungry gaze of noir has always been fixed instead on the future. It’s a genre filled with the kind of characters the novelist Laura Lippman calls “dreamers who become schemers.” The dedicated employee who decides to steal from the boss, the drifter who wants the rich man’s wife, the low-rent crooks who try to pull off the big con.
Harrison loves his schemers, especially the high-stakes New York City variety, and his exuberance for plundering financiers, money-grubbing heirs and double-dealing musclemen for hire is the fuel that propels “You Belong to Me.” At the center is Paul, whose comfortable lifestyle comes from his boutique law practice but whose passion lies in obsessive rare map collecting. In the novel’s opening scene, Paul attends a map auction with his neighbor Jennifer, the fetching young wife of Ahmed Mehraz, a fast-rising lawyer-financier from a wealthy West Coast Iranian-American family. Mid-auction marks the sudden, dramatic appearance of William Wilkerson, a recently discharged Army Ranger and former lover from Jennifer’s hardscrabble past.


It’s a classic noir triangle, but it widens quickly to introduce a roundelay of characters with volatile tempers and conflicting agendas, including Paul’s sometime girlfriend Rachel, Ahmed’s worldly uncle Hassan, Wilkerson’s God-fearing Texan father, sundry contract killers and map dealers — even a former Mexican cartel assassin hiding from El Chapo. The common denominator among them seems to be a voracious hunger: for money, power, revenge, a baby, a bargaining chip, a return to a more glorious past — or, in Paul’s case, for a very old map. “Wish and dream,” Paul philosophizes at one point, standing among his maps. “Trouble and desire.”
The story that follows is deliciously twisty and, intermittently, startlingly violent. With such a wide cast, its many characters risk feeling like types, or even stereotypes, but Harrison attempts to give most of them a moment in the sun: an explanatory back story, a convincing moral justification, even a Rosebud moment. “Everyone had a private journey,” Paul observes, “and no one was ever completely known by anyone.” Some journeys, however, are more compelling than others; “You Belong to Me” is weakest when ventriloquizing its primary female characters, with Rachel and Jennifer never fully coming to life — and seldom driving any of the real action.
But Harrison’s interests are never entirely with the novel’s younger characters anyway. Instead, the emotional and moral heft of the story resides with its older men: Uncle Hassan, whose role in Iran’s tumultuous history has imbued him with a moral gravitas; Mr. Wilkerson, the Army Ranger’s father, who fairly glows with “Friday Night Lights”-style grace; and, ultimately, Paul himself. “No one,” Hassan ruminates at one point in the action, “is interested in the opinions of an old man … sitting next to a pool in California.” He adds, “History moved on, left you at the station holding a heavy suitcase and a worthless ticket.”
But within the moral universe of “You Belong to Me,” these three men of middle age — a father, a father figure and (if Paul’s girlfriend has her way) a father-to-be — exert a powerful force. “When you never know your father,” Jennifer speculates as her life unravels, “it causes all kinds of trouble.” It’s a view Paul, and Harrison’s narrative, support. The novel’s older men, these canny patriarchs, seem to understand everything the younger characters do not. If the hot passions of youth — desire, jealousy, foolish pride — fail to cool into something softer, more measured, then the catastrophe looms. It is up to these wise men to set things right, and Paul in particular succeeds in engineering, in the novel’s last pages, a dizzying series of machinations to institute an order on the disorder he sees, moving characters around likes pawns on a chess board. Or like push pins on a map.
Maps, as Paul tells us, seek to fix in place what can never be fixed. They attempt to stop time and assert a false permanence. And what rescues the ending of “You Belong to Me” from what might feel like too tidy a conclusion is the messiness that is Paul, the dreamer-schemer.
Early in the novel, Paul admits to dreaming of owning every map ever made of New York City. To do so, he feels, would give him a godlike power — a power even to destroy, if he so chooses. “For the collector collects to have. To own, to worship, to possess — to say this is mine and no one else’s.” This is the essence of noir, this unstoppable urge, this voracity so intense it starts to feel perverse even to the subject.
It is irresistible to note a very similar passage in Harrison’s recent account of his own obsessive map collecting in “Never Can Say Goodbye: Writers on Their Unshakable Love for New York.” With exquisite unrepentance, he notes that his Brooklyn brownstone is covered in thousands of maps and he, like Paul, longs to own every one of New York City. “I crave them, I fever for them. I feel that a map I do not have but want is yet rightfully mine; I must touch them and smell them and possess them, must run my finger along their stiff or soft or irregular damaged edges.”
This is the obsession that we see in Paul and that thrums deliriously through the novel. He wants them all. He can’t stop, and doesn’t want to. It’s consuming. The hard, hot beat of noir goes on.
Continue reading the main story

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Man Who Designed the Future: Norman Bel Geddes and the Invention of Twentieth-Century America by B. Alexandra Szerlip,is great

The Girl You Left Behind by JoJo Moyes,is very good,review by By John Greenya - The Washington Times

Had I known that Jojo Moyes had twice won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award, “The Girl You Left Behind” would quickly have become the book I left behind — which would have been a big mistake. What the author has written is not a love story within a historical setting, but an excellent historical novel that is also a moving love story. Excuse me, make that love stories. The book opens in 1916, the midpoint of World War I. The small French town of Peronne — which actually exists, then and now — is occupied by the Germans, whose soldiers have taken everything worth taking, all the valuables and, of course, all the decent food. Even though the townspeople are starving, the Germans want more from them.
The commandant informs Sophie Lefevre that every Monday night she must feed his soldiers in her family’s small restaurant, Le Coq Rouge. Sophie is in no position to object or to resist — her beloved husband Edouard, a gifted painter, is, like all the adult males of Peronne, in the French army, fighting the Germans in some unknown part of the country, though odds are he is a prisoner of war. The commandant tells Sophiethat he will provide the food, and she and her sister will cook and serve it (and the wine) with appropriate hospitality.
It’s the last requirement that earns Sophie the ill will of her own townspeople. She has already proven her mettle by standing up to and staring down the Germans in a magnificent opening scene, which I will not reveal here. Yet some of her neighbors expect ongoing heroism.
That theme, once established, remains a leitmotif throughout the World War I sections of the novel, as does the existence of a beautiful painting of Sophie done by Edouard when they were falling in love. The commandant, no barbarian (at least not culturally) covets the painting, and, eventually, Sophie, in equal measure. However, just when Sophie is taken by the Germans and whisked away in the back of a truck to an unknown fate, and the plot has thickened almost to the point of congealing, the author whisks us away (reluctantly, in the case of this reader, and deposits us in London in 2006).
The painting of the book’s title now hangs in the bedroom of Liv Halston, a 33-year-old Londoner who, like Sophie before her, has just lost her husband. The difference is that when we left Sophie, her Edouard was, presumably, still alive, whereas David Halston, Liv’s husband, a brilliant young architect with an even more brilliant future, has died, very undramatically, in bed at home at age 36.
As Liv tells someone, late in the book, “‘Can you imagine you slept through the person you love most dying next to you? Knowing that there might have been something you could have done to help him? To save him?’”
The torch Liv carries for her husband, who had bought “The Girl You Left Behind” for her on their honeymoon, burns very brightly for very long, and then, when it appears she is about to slip through the safety net of her meager social life, she meets another man and falls for him.
Paul is a professional art-theft investigator, and the company he co-owns specializes in restoring European art stolen by the Germans (in both world wars) to the heirs of their rightful owners. In an intimate scene (that strained my credulity more than a bit) he sees “The Girl” on Liv’s bedroom wall and recognizes it as a painting his firm has been hired to find. From that point on, the novel speeds to its resolution, but not before going back in time to pick up, and finish, the Sophie-Edouard story, and then returns to Liv-Paul in modern-day London. It is to author Jojo Moyes’ great credit that she accomplishes this difficult task not just with aplomb, but with a compassionate conclusion that is entirely plausible.
This is a novel with many tangents, little streams flowing off the main body of water in the way of so many tributaries. It’s a bit like reading a family tree and learning how every one of the main family members fared in life. The secondary characters are all believable and marvelously well-drawn. Here I think immediately of the commandant, but also of Sophie’s siblings, her heroic sister, her doubting Thomas of a younger brother and one fellow resident of Peronne in particular.
In the 21st-century London sections, there’s Mo, a younger hippie-type who befriends Liv, and vice versa, as well as Paul’s partner, a woman with a heart of gold bullion — all in all a superb cast and an excellent story. There’s even a fast-moving court scene sequence, which, being set in Great Britain with wigs and all, provides an interesting difference for readers more familiar with American legal thrillers.
By the end, “The Girl You Left Behind” had become not just a picture-perfect historical novel, but also a true mystery-thriller. And I no longer cared how many romance novels Ms. Moyes had written.

John Greenya is a Washington-area writer.

Friday, July 7, 2017

MORE:The Women Who Flew for Hitler: The True Story of Hitler’s Valkyries Clare Mulley

It is conventional wisdom in the publishing industry that, despite the old adage, readers do indeed judge books by their covers. So, it seems, do passengers on the No. 29 bus. For a middle-aged man reading Clare Mulley’s The Women Who Flew for Hitler, some of the looks I got made me so uncomfortable that I took to hiding the cover behind a newspaper.
So let’s get one thing straight from the beginning: this is not a niche book for Third Reich enthusiasts, nor a seedy excuse to fantasise about women in Nazi uniforms. Do not be put off by the awful title: it is in fact a serious double biography of two of the most remarkable women in the history of aviation.
The first of Mulley’s subjects, and the more famous of the two, is Hanna Reitsch. Reitsch was the darling of the prewar German press and one of the most gifted fliers of her generation. At the age of 21, this extraordinary woman flew a glider through storm clouds to set a new world altitude record for unpowered flight. In 1937 she became the first woman ever to fly a helicopter, and during the second world war she flew every plane going, including manned versions of the V-1 flying bomb.
Her physical courage seemed to know no bounds. In 1942, she crashed in a jet plane prototype she was testing; but despite breaking her back in several places, and having her nose torn from her face, she was back flying again within a year. She was the first German woman to be made a Flight Captain, the first to receive the Military Flying Medal, and the first to receive the Iron Cross, First Class. ‘She was the one and only Hanna Reitsch,’ as one of her male colleagues put it, ‘a symbol of German womanhood and the idol of German aviation.’
The second woman in Mulley’s book, though less well known, is perhaps even more impressive. Melitta Schiller was a military test pilot whose determination to stress her planes to their very limits seemed almost suicidal. According to one contemporary, taking a plane into even a moderate nosedive was ‘something many male pilots already regarded as an act of heroism’. Melitta insisted on flying her planes almost vertically towards the ground, only pulling out at the very last moment. On one such dive the canopy of her plane blew off, leaving her exposed to the elements as she tried to bring her plane back under control. On another occasion her windscreen exploded. She was forced to crash-land several times, and once had to bail out when her plane caught fire. Yet she remained undeterred: during the course of her career she completed more than 2,000 nosedives in the name of research.
The half-Jewish Melitta Schiller, who supported the plot to kill Hitler.
The half-Jewish Melitta Schiller, who supported the plot to kill Hitler.
However, what made Melitta Schiller so exceptional was that the equipment she was testing during these dives was often also designed by her. The research of this talented aeronautical engineer gave rise to scores of innovations, especially in night-fighter technology. Thus, not only did she become the second woman to be awarded the Iron Cross, First Class, but towards the end of the war she was also appointed head of her own research station. She would spend her mornings performing death-defying manoeuvres in the air and her afternoons at the drawing board, perfecting her designs.
As a story of two women bursting through the very low glass ceilings of their time and rising to the pinnacle of their profession, Mulley’s book is a satisfying, rollicking read. But there is a great deal more nuance here than first meets the eye. Neither woman regarded herself as a feminist — indeed, Melitta openly repudiated the very idea. Both worked in the service of a vile regime, and were well aware of the crimes it was committing. One wants to celebrate their achievements, but Mulley deliberately makes us uncomfortable about doing so.
Furthermore, she reveals that despite some superficial similarities, these were two very different women. Hanna was brash, impatient for change, and became a fanatical Nazi. She had private dinners with Göring, Himmler and Hitler, and even spent time with Hitler in his bunker during the final days of the Nazi Reich. She survived the war but kept the taint of her Nazi past until her death in 1979.
Melitta, by contrast, lived by the traditional values of the old German Junker class. She was also half-Jewish, and was only spared deportation to the camps because her pioneering work was worth too much to the regime. Before the war she married into the family of Claus von Stauffenberg, and wholeheartedly supported his plot to kill Hitler in 1944. She died in a doomed attempt to find her husband at the very end of the war when her plane was shot down by the Allies. Each woman in her way was therefore emblematic of a different facet of German society during the most turbulent years of the 20th century.
Mulley’s biography is well researched, beautifully written, and gives a perspective on the war that even seasoned students will find refreshing. So do not be put off by the title: this is one book that should not be judged by its cover.

Women Who Flew for Hitler : A True Story of Soaring Ambition and Searing Rivalry by Clare Mulley,on reserve at NYPL

LJ Reviews 2017 June #1
These days, it can be difficult to remember a time when flight was glamorous. In the 1920s and 1930s, airplanes were for the adventurous. The top perfume for women, En Avion, was inspired by figures such as Amelia Earhart and Hélène Boucher; women ambitious enough to believe in their wildest dreams. In Germany, two of the top female aviators, Melitta von Stauffenberg (1903â€"45) and Hanna Reitsch (1912â€"79), were daring test pilots who were awarded the Iron Cross for their service to the Third Reich. While they shared a love of flight and country, their political views and personal choices were entirely different. Melitta supported an attack on Adolf Hitler's life, while Hanna died a Nazi apologist. Historian and biographer Mulley (The Woman Who Saved the Children) sheds light on the story of these two women, contrasting their personalities while also showing the impact that Hitler's rise to power had on their lives. VERDICT This compelling work has the drama and suspense of the best movie scripts. It is the perfect choice for lovers of narrative non-fiction, especially those interested in strong females.â€"Beth Dalton, Littleton, CO
Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The silent corner : by Dean Koontz.

Booklist Reviews 2017 May #1
When FBI agent Jane Hawk's husband inexplicably kills himself, she wants to know why. After some digging, she discovers that a lot of people have been taking their own lives lately, people who by all accounts had no apparent reason for ending them prematurely. Knowing she could be signing her own death warrant, Jane puts her career and life on the line to find out who's behind this wave of suicides. Billed as the first in a new series, this gripping thriller grabs readers from the first few pages and sweeps them along to the rousing finale. Long an A-list best-seller, Koontz has always delivered the goods, whether he's tackling science fiction, horror, or thrillers (notably the Odd Thomas series). That varied bibliography now adds a new series and an exciting new heroine. Expect the usual clamor for copies among the faithful, who are certain to embrace Jane Hawk immediately and eagerly await the next installment.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: As he testifies in a letter to his readers prefacing the ARC of The Silent Corner, Koontz was enthralled by his new character and felt renewed as a writer by creating her. Readers will be equally enthralled, helped along by a "Blockbuster National Marketing & Publicity Campaign."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Domina by L.S. Hilton,looking foward to this

"In this riveting sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller, Maestra, femme fatale Judith Rashleigh once again leads readers into the mesmerizing and dangerous underworld of Europe's glamorous elite. Since opening her own art gallery in Venice, Judith Rashleigh--now Elisabeth Teerlinc--can finally stop running. She's got the paycheck, lifestyle, and wardrobe she always dreamed of, not to mention the interest of a Russian billionaire. But when a chance encounter in Ibiza leads to a corpse that is, for once, not her own doing, she finds her life is back on the line--and she's more alone than ever. It seems Judith's become involved with more than just one stolen painting, and there is someone else willing to kill for what's theirs. From St. Moritz toSerbia, Judith again finds herself maneuvering the strange landscapes of wealth, but this time there's far more than her reputation at stake. How far will Rage take Judith? Far enough to escape death? The second installment in an unforgettable trilogy,Domina is the next sexy, ruthless, and decadent thriller from mastermind L. S. Hilton, and an adventure that will push Judith further than even she imagined she could go"-- Provided by publisher.

Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane is a great thriller

Booklist Reviews 2017 March #2
*Starred Review* Lehane is one of our most versatile crime writers: he's done series mysteries (the Kenzie-Gennaro novels), stand-alone thrillers (Mystic River, 2001), horror-thriller blends (Shutter Island, 2003), and large-scale historical novels (The Given Day, 2008), and he's done them all superbly. Now he adds psychological thrillers to his résumé. Rachel Childs, the protagonist in this slalom course of a tale, is a mess. She was once a rising television journalist, but an on-camera meltdown sent her career into free fall and left her a virtual shut-in, obsessed with finding her father, who vanished from her life as a child. Everything changes when she falls in love with her own Mr. McDreamy, Brian Delacroix, and he slowly pulls her out of her shell. Then the slalom course takes its most jarring turn: Is Brian hiding something? Well, yes, he's hiding plenty.A lot of thrillers boast twisty plots, but Lehane plies his corkscrew on more than the story line. The mood and pace of the novel change directions, too, jumping from thoughtful character study to full-on suspense thriller, like a car careening down San Francisco's Lombard Street, cautiously at one moment, hell-bent at another. But this narrative vehicle never veers out of control, and when Lehane hits the afterburners in the last 50 pages, he produces one of crime fiction's most exciting and well-orchestrated finalesâ€"rife with dramatic tension and buttressed by rich psychological interplay between the characters. Don't be surprised if Since We Fell makes readers forget about that other psychological thriller featuring an unstable heroine named Rachel.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The buzz has already begun for this one and will soon reach ear-shattering levels, aided by the author's 15-city tour and a full component of bells and whistles. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Agent M : the lives and spies of MI5's Maxwell Knight by Henry Hemming,reading now

The Shadow Land: A Novel: by Elizabeth Kostova is what i'm reading now

American kingpin : the epic hunt for the criminal mastermind behind the Silk Road by Nick Bilton. is very good

LJ Reviews 2017 May #1
Bilton (special correspondent, Vanity Fair; Hatching Twitter) has written the first and definitive account of the Dark Web drug bazaar known as the Silk Road. Thanks to his access to trial transcripts, web postings of Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht, and interviews with government players and friends of Ulbricht, this book brims with fascinating detail. It alternates between accounts of baffled federal agents trying to identify the ghostly "Dread Pirate Roberts," Ulbricht's online persona, and his Libertarian upbringing and actions. Bilton excels in showing how Ulbricht, otherwise undistinguished professionally, recognized that warring government agencies, including corrupt agents, were unable to police the anonymous reaches of the Internet. Hiring worldwide help to run a marketplace in drugs, guns, and human organs, Ulbricht could demonstrate his superiority, change society, and get rich in Bitcoin. This deeply researched book is a pleasure to read and a nightmare foretold for law enforcement. VERDICT Highly recommended for true crime and technology fans.â€"Harry Charles, St. Louis

The man who designed the future : Norman Bel Geddes and the invention of twentieth-century America by B. Alexandra Szerlip. is very good

The loveliest woman in America : a tragic actress, her lost diaries, and her granddaughter's search for home by Bibi good

The swan thieves : a novel by Elizabeth Kostova is good

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry.

Booklist Reviews 2017 May #1
*Starred Review* Secret love and the suggestion of something unearthly moving in the Essex Blackwater drive the intricate plot of this atmospheric historical novel about Cora Seaborne, a widow visiting Colchester with her companion, ostensibly to explore the estuary for fossils. A medieval "winged serpent" myth still holds the inhabitants of Aldwinter in thrall, despite the best efforts of the local rector, Will Ransome; and as Perry's second novel (following After Me Comes the Flood, 2015) wends its way through mysterious disappearances, fog-laden visions, suspicion, and tragedy, it seems as if the monster is real. The vivid, often frightening imagery (the Leviathan, a shack sinking in the bog, the scrape of scales moving up the shingle) and the lush descriptions ("stained glass angels had the wings of jays") create a magical background for the sensual love story between Sarah and Will. Book-discussion groups will have a field day with the imagery, the well-developed characters, and the concepts of innocence, evil, and guilt. Like Lauren Groff's The Monsters of Templeton (2008), the appearance of a sea monster sheds more light on humanity than on natural history, while the sudden revelation of a creature of the deep heralds change and revelation, as in Jim Lynch's The Highest Tide 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Horse Dancer by Jojo Moyes is great

Booklist Reviews 2017 April #1
Originally published in the UK in 2009, The Horse Dancer differs sharply from Moyes' later works (Me before You, 2012). Fourteen year-old Sarah cares only about her grandfather and her horse, Boo. She spends all her time at a London urban stable, training with Boo to follow in her grandfather's footsteps in joining an elite French equestrian academy. When an accident turns her world upside down, Sarah's care falls to Natasha, a lawyer who works with children, and her Natasha's ex-husband, Mac. Sarah is determined to reach the academy, but unless she can share her secrets with Natasha and Mac, she may lose not only her dream of being accepted at Le Cadre Noir, but Boo as well. Alternating narration between Sarah and Natasha, this somewhat bloated novel shines a light on a unique kind of dressage, urban stables, and the love of a girl for her horse. The exposition is a bit drawn out, and Sarah and Natasha come across as unlikable at times. Yet, with a touch of adventure, Moyes offers a lovely comment on the importance of discipline, love, and persistence in our relationships. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

An object of beauty : a novel bySteve Martin.,comment is wonderful,but not mine,its by Andrew Butterfield

A small but typical example: a key character in the book is a European collector of paintings, and when he first appears he has oily hair and an open silk shirt, exposing gold chains and a hairy chest (like the characters in Martin’s “Wild and Crazy Guys” skits). Later he is seen wearing an Armani suit. I have met hundreds of collectors in New York and elsewhere, and not one ever went about with an open shirt and gold chains or wore a suit that said Armani. Not one. The men tend to wear custom-made clothing, and in a range of styles of business attire. Other than the quality of the fabric and the stitching, which you have to look to see, rarely does it proclaim its high sartorial quality. It is not ostentatious, and it is not a recognizable brand. But with unintended irony, everything in Martin's book is a brand, a mass-produced badge of belonging to the elite. 

Exhibitionism : art in an era of intolerance by Lynne Munson. very good

Munson, a cultural critic and researcher at the American Enterprise Institute and a former official at the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), takes the "culture wars" of the 1990s and their origins as her topics. Though not dissecting the Battle at Tilted Arc, the Siege of Piss Christ, Mapplethorpe's Last Stand, the Finley Offensive, and the Great Dung War, Munson uses these and other examples from the decade to demonstrate that postmodern thought is the real intolerance at work in the arts. It is postmodernism, a cousin of deconstructionism, she argues, that turned art away from a search for truth or a range of aesthetics and into a study of power. Munson's solid scholarship is supported by her insider's knowledge of NEH funding patterns (appendixes track grants from broad support for the arts to more focused support for video and performance artists who often led the effort to critique society). Munson builds her case carefully and offers a fresh viewpoint absent from the media snippets. Her book makes a significant contribution to the always heated and never resolved discussion of "offensive" art. Recommended for general and topical collections. David Bryant, New Canaan Lib., CT Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Antifragile : things that gain from disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. just put on reserve at NYPL “nonsissy.”

Booklist Reviews 2012 November #2
Judging by his anecdotes, Taleb interacts with the economic masters of the universe as he jets from New York to London or attends business-politics confabs in Davos, Switzerland. Anything but awed by them, Taleb regards them as charlatans, not as credible experts. Such skepticism toward elites, which imbued Taleb's The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (2007), continues in this work, which grapples with a concept Taleb coins as "antifragile." Not readily reducible to a definition (Taleb takes the whole book to develop the idea), suffice to say here that antifragile's oppositesâ€"economic, political, or medical systems that are vulnerable to sudden collapseâ€"tend to be managed by highly educated people who think they know how systems work. But they don't, avers Taleb. Their confidence in control is illusory; their actions harm rather than help. In contrast, Taleb views decentralized systemsâ€"the entrepreneurial business rather than the bureaucratized corporation, the local rather than the central governmentâ€"as more adaptable to systemic stresses. Emphatic in his style and convictions, Taleb grabs readers given to musing how the world works. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.                            LJ Reviews 2013 January #1
Taleb's (risk engineering, New York Univ.; Black Swans) unorthodox thinking and luminescent style manifest themselves in a fusillade of neologisms, creative phraseology, and quirky illustrations. In his previous work, the author outlined the impact of rare, unpredictable events and foretold the impending financial crisis. Here he uses the concept of "antifragility" to show how we can protect ourselves from inevitable personal and societal calamities. The global financial crisis of 2008 is the watershed event of the narrative. Yet Taleb adroitly weaves in strands of psychology, child development, medicine, biology, civics, philosophy, education, military strategy, and the classics to explain how antifragility can make people and systems stronger in the same way that bones need stress to grow denser. VERDICT Taleb's tome is by turns entertaining, thought-provoking, silly, brilliant, and irreverent, yet his logic remains cogent and his message clear throughout. His wit and substance have already found him a worldwide audience; this book is likely to create him an even more robust fan base.â€"Carol Elsen, Univ. of Wisconsin, Whitewater, Libs.
[Page 97]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.                                                                                                   

LJ Reviews Newsletter
Taleb's (risk engineering, New York Univ.; Black Swans) unorthodox thinking and luminescent style manifest themselves in a fusillade of neologisms, creative phraseology, and quirky illustrations. In his previous work, the author outlined the impact of rare, unpredictable events and foretold the impending financial crisis. Here he uses the concept of "antifragility" to show how we can protect ourselves from inevitable personal and societal calamities. The global financial crisis of 2008 is the watershed event of the narrative. Yet Taleb adroitly weaves in strands of psychology, child development, medicine, biology, civics, philosophy, education, military strategy, and the classics to explain how antifragility can make people and systems stronger in the same way that bones need stress to grow denser. VERDICT Taleb's tome is by turns entertaining, thought-provoking, silly, brilliant, and irreverent, yet his logic remains cogent and his message clear throughout. His wit and substance have already found him a worldwide audience; this book is likely to create him an even more robust fan bas e. â€"Carol Elsen, Univ. of Wisconsin, Whitewater, Libs. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.                     PW Reviews 2012 October #3
In this overstuffed, idiosyncratic theory of everything we don't know, financial adviser and epistemologist Taleb amplifies his megaselling The Black Swan with further musings on the upside of unpredictable upheavals. Ranging haphazardly across probability theory, classical philosophy, government, medicine, and other topics, he contrasts large, complex, "fragile" systems that try to minimize risk but collapse under unforeseen volatility with small, untethered, "antifragile" systems structured to reap advantages from disorder. Taleb's accessible, stimulating exposition of these ideas yields cogent insights, particularly in financeâ€"his specialty. (He essentially inflates a hedging strategy into a philosophy of life.) Often, however, his far-flung polymathic digressions on everything from weight-lifting regimens to the Fukushima meltdown or the unnaturalness of toothpaste feel tossed-off and unconvincing, given his dilettantish contempt for expert "knowledge-shknowledge." Taleb's vigorous, blustery prose drips with Nietzschean scorn for academics, bankers, and bourgeois "sissies" who crave comfort and moderation: "If you take risks and face your fate with dignity," he intones, "insults by half-men (small men, those who don't risk)" are no more rankling than "barks by non-human animals." More worldview than rigorous argument, Taleb's ramblings may strike readers with knowledge-shknowledge as ill-considered; still, he presents a richâ€"and often tellingâ€"critique of modern civilization's obsession with security. Illus. Agent: John Brockman, Brockman Inc. (Nov. 27)
[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Paris in the Present Tense by Mark Helprin looking foward to this...

Pearl : a new verse translation by Simon Armitage. I might give this a try...

LJ Reviews 2016 February #2
Armitage (poetry, Univ. of Sheffield, UK), well-known for his translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, turns his skill to Pearl, another poem published in the same manuscript and possibly composed by the same anonymous author. Pearl tells the poignant tale of a man's grief over the loss of a young girl; he falls into a dream and is guided toward acceptance of death and hope for divine redemption. As the original Middle English text may be difficult for contemporary readers to grasp, Armitage's expert translation speaks to a modern audience with as little disturbance to the rhythm and structure of the original as possible. Divided into 20 sections, the 1,212-line poem in this edition has facing original text and is supplemented by helpful footnotes. VERDICT Armitage successfully and exquisitely translates this classic poem, providing readers with a clear and complete version that honors the original. Recommended for readers of poetry and literature, particularly scholars of medieval English literature.â€"Jennifer Harris, Southern New Hampshire Univ. Lib., Manchester

Friday, March 31, 2017

Spook Street by Mick Herron great! spent 11 years in the met. Uniform? Why do you ask? Just painting a mental picture. Ive spent some years in uniform,naturally. Have you still got it?She rolled her eyes.Don't be shy,he said,a figure like yours,and a uniform handy That's gunna make some man happy.Maybe i'm gay. Well picturing that's gunna make a lot of men very happy.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The night tourist by Katherine Marsh one of my favorite books

Booklist Reviews 2007 November #1
Although only a freshman in high school, Jack Perdu is a classics whiz who is helping a Yale University scholar with her new translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses. Since the death of his mother, the boy has become increasingly withdrawn and friendless. When he's accidentally struck by a car, his life changes dramatically. Sent to New York for a medical consultation, Jack finds himself exploring an unknown underworld beneath the city alongside a fascinating girl who calls herself Euri. Is it coincidental that Jack's favorite Greek myth is the story of Orpheus and Eurydice? And are those dead people he's seeing? Some of the ensuing plot twists seem more manufactured than imagined, but this first children's book by the managing editor of The New Republic has an interesting premise, rooted in mythology, and a nicely realized underworld setting. And who can complain about encounters with the shades of Brooks Atkinson, Tennessee Williams, and Dylan Thomas? Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.

Monday, March 6, 2017


About halfway through “The American Painter Emma Dial” the title character makes the obligatory pilgrimage to West 24th Street in Chelsea, to attend an art opening. Emma Dial is an appealing woman of 31, talented but not excessively driven, who earns her living as an assistant to a celebrated male painter. When she arrives at the gallery, the room is jammed with people she recognizes, and she thinks, with only minimum exaggeration, that all of them fall into one of two categories: “Anyone who was not famous was someone’s assistant.”

David Zaugh
Samantha Peale

New York is crawling with a hidden underclass of people who are essential to the perpetuation of creative achievement. Lately, it seems, they have generated a genre of fiction all their own: the assist-and-tell novel, which typically recounts the indignities of an entry-level job at a fashion magazine, a film studio or some other fabled precinct of the culture industry. Such novels tend to pit an unsung innocent against an acclaimed if creatively depleted elder and bemoan the injustice of a world in which assistants supply the imaginative vitality for dictator types who garner the credit and rewards.
In her witty and impressively observed debut novel Samantha Peale has given us what is probably the first novel narrated by a studio assistant in New York in the 21st century. When the novel opens, Emma Dial is about to begin her seventh year as a full-time factotum to Michael Freiburg, a pompous and self-satisfied painter in his 50s. He works in a palatial loft on Christie Street, on the Lower East Side, and owns a dog (a Great Dane) that is similarly oversized. He paints moody landscapes, scenes of gnarled tree branches and green tornadoes that sell for properly inflated sums of money.
If Michael Freiburg’s pictures have a defining feature, it is probably the alarming circumstances of their creation: someone else paints them. Most every day Emma Dial can be found in his studio, listening to NPR and diligently applying paint to canvas under his direction.
There is, of course, a long and mostly reputable tradition of young painters assisting older ones. Masters from Rembrandt on down employed apprentices to stretch their canvases, mix their pigments and fill in around the edges; the goal was to maximize production and lend a workshop the hum of efficiency. Nonetheless Michael Freiburg is a unique figure, if only in the depth of his laziness. As Emma notes with predictable annoyance: “He did not spend any time painting. Any time at all. He told me he did not miss it either.”
If Michael depends on Emma to furnish his work with whatever visual richness it has, he poaches on her sexual vitality as well. She lives within walking distance of his studio, and Michael, who is married, frequently stops by unannounced. Their lovemaking is markedly downtown in spirit, with all that implies about unconventional locales and the pungent scent of oil paint and turpentine. As Emma recounts, “Our first sexual foray took place at the studio, leaning against the wall between canvases, and was harshly overlit.”
The author worked for four years as a studio assistant to the sculptor Jeff Koons, which can tempt one to read the novel as a roman à clef offering insight into the workings of the florid Koonsian brain. But this would be pointless. For one thing, Michael Freiburg is not a sculptor, and Ms. Peale situates him in a studio stocked with sable brushes, colors chosen “from the Pantone catalog” and other staples of the painter’s craft.
On the other hand, the novel does have a based-on-experience directness about it, so much so that in weaker moments it strays from sharp-eyed observation into the mush of unfiltered whining. “Maybe he had to look down on me, patronize me, think of me as inferior to him so that he could compete to be the best,” Emma notes, in a tone reminiscent of self-help books.
In reveries enhanced by the soothing effects of cigarettes and nail biting, she sadly concludes that the rewards of her job — the steady paycheck, the proximity to fame — have led her astray from her childhood ambition. She wants to be a painter in her own right, and her growing despair over the uncommitted, unexpressed part of herself finally forces her to act.
Emma Dial, in the end, is a stirring reminder of the countless young artists stuck in captivity as assistants, hoping their gifts will extricate them. By her own account she has an uncommon talent for rendering objects with verisimilitude; she can draw anything, in any style. But that alone does not get her far. Truth be told, success as an artist is the sum of many variables that can include luck, good timing, exceptional energy and a ruthless willingness to trample your grandmother in the quest for painterly glory. Of course it’s a plus if you have a few ideas, or what used to be known as a vision.
What does it take to be a great artist? This novel supplies a new and not implausible definition: An artist is someone who refuses to work as anyone’s assistant.
Image result for THE AMERICAN PAINTER EMMA DIAL By Samantha Peale
Image result for THE AMERICAN PAINTER EMMA DIAL By Samantha Peale

Friday, February 17, 2017

Robert Lowell: Setting the River on Fire, by Kay Redfield Jamison on reserve at NYPL

Library Journal Reviews
MacArthur Fellow Jamison, a Johns Hopkins professor of psychiatry whose best sellers include An Unquiet Mind, chronicles major American poet Robert Lowell's forthright showdown with bipolar illness by drawing on unprecedented access to Lowell's medical records, previously unpublished drafts and fragments of poems, and conversations with his daughter. Clarifying the relationship between mental illness and creativity.. Copyright 2016 Library Journal.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Jamison (An Unquiet Mind), a psychologist and honorary professor of English at St. Andrew's University, is uniquely qualified to pursue the connections between creativity and mania—in this case, through the brilliant example of American poet Robert Lowell (1917–1977). He was born into a prominent New England family from which he inherited both deep Puritan roots and a legacy of manic depression. Jamison's study is a "narrative" of his illness. She is not interested in biography per se, but does place Lowell's mental health in the context of his life and show his illness's influence on his poems. Jamison paints a sympathetic but brutally honest portrait of what manic depressive disorder can do to both sufferers and the people around them—her depiction of Lowell's second wife, critic and fiction author Elizabeth Hardwick, is especially compelling. She is able to draw on medical records from his various hospitalizations, released by Lowell's family to Jamison, and bring her own medical expertise to bear. Some judicious editing would not go amiss—this is a long read with some repetition—but Jamison has constructed a novel and rewarding way to view Lowell's life and output. (Feb.) Copyright 2016 Publisher Weekly.